Saturday, November 14, 2009

Free Poetry: Ben Mirov's "Collected Ghost"

Print purists can say what they want, but the information-dissemination possibilities offered by the digital age can't be denied. One of the great opportuities offered by the medium of the Internet is free poetry, not only in the form of individual poems, but entire chapbooks and collections as well.

The latest free PDF chapbook I took a liking to is Ben Mirov's "Collected Ghost," recently released by H_NGM_N Books. "Ghost" is an apt term to describe the collection, which consists of 27 poems separated into three fairly distinct sections. The first section is the strongest of the three, with the following sections dissolving into a kind of indifferent ambiguity by the end like a ghost which, as you proceed toward the floor, dissolves into the ether.

Each of the nine poems in the first section reads like a summarization of the poet's day, as in this selection from "Fillmore Ghost": "She arrives and I can't remember her name and / she kisses me. The last three songs are dim. I can't find an ATM. I / throw the poster in the trash. My pants are covered in beer."

The poems are conversational in tone, mostly caught somewhere between free verse poetry and the prose poem, and are full of potent and telling imagery, as in "Same Ghost": "I act like myself at a coffee shop and try not / to shake. My day is a petal of in a glass of vodka."

Elsewhere in the section, the lines are inexplicable yet somehow entirely accessible at the same time, as in "Empty Set": "I can't eat anything that begins with C. I can't run faster than that guy / in my brain. I don't feel like emailing V in Morocco. He's scoring weed / and not eating lamb."

The second section of the collection is titled "Eye, Ghost," and is a series of 10 numbered poems that each consecutively weave into the next. Dominant in this section are form (each poem is 10 lines long and has similar line length) and the replacement of the personal pronoun "I" with the word "Eye," which sadly ends up seeming too much like a gimmick, being little more than a distraction from the rest of the poetry.

The strength of the second section is the various references to lines from the first section, which by the end of the second section ultimately makes one feel at least satisfied that it ties in to the collection somehow. If each poem from the first section seems like a snapshot of the poet's day, the second section is like a photo album that brings them all together.

Yet by the end of the second section one can't help but relate to the poet, who in the first line of the first poem of the series writes, "Eye woke up in a construct."

The eight poems in the third and final section seem like outtakes from the first. They follow the same sort of thematic curve, but are less effective in their execution, the collected impressions seeming more randomly thrown together, as in "Ghost Chapter": "I eat too many eggs at work. / I put too much ketchup on my hash browns. / R gets mad and throws a computer. / He can't brush his teeth."

Ultimately it's a rewarding collection. It's a quick read, and again, it's free.

As far as the poet goes, Mirov is a New York-based, widely published writer who, according to his chapbook bio, won the Diagram/New Michigan Press 2009 Chapbook Contest for his chapbook "I is to Vorticism." He edits the online journal pax americana and is poetry editor of LIT Magazine. He also keeps an interesting blog.

No comments: